Philadelphia/ Health & Lifestyle
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Published on June 21, 2024
Philadelphia Extends Heat Health Emergency Through Sunday Amidst Soaring TemperaturesSource: Peter Alt, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

With the mercury rising and the city's air heavy with humidity, Philadelphia is battening down the hatches against the scorching heat. Friday carried the news that the Heat Health Emergency, which was set to expire soon, is now extended through midnight Sunday, June 23, as reported by the City's official website. This decision, triggered by continued high forecasted heat index values, means Philadelphians will have access to emergency heat programs like cooling centers and special outreach services for a few days more.

Interim Health Commissioner Frank Franklin, who holds a string of credentials including PhD, JD, MPH, and FCPP, didn't make this call lightly. Extending the Heat Health Emergency activates the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s Heatline and sends the city into high gear providing necessary services to keep its citizens cool. In case it wasn't enough, you heard it straight from Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department Commissioner Susan Slawson who told residents, "I urge anyone who needs to cool down to visit one of Parks and Rec’s cooling centers, spraygrounds, or pools."

For those feeling the heat and worried about its effects, the PCA Heatline remains the nerve center for concerns and advice, operating from 8:30 a.m. to midnight on all emergency days, and maybe longer if the simmering conditions don't subside. In assistance, Philadelphia has flung open the doors to 153 Cooling Centers and Sites dotted across the city. The full list of sites and a helpful map are downloadable from the City's website, or residents can simply dial 311 to locate the nearest one. Of course, those spots and their hours may shuffle around if the Heat Health Emergency gets pushed out even further.

Alternatively, the city's partnered with several community organizations including Broad Street Ministry and Prevention Point Philadelphia, bolstering the city's grid of respite spots. These community-oriented Cooling Centers, all of which are ADA-compliant, will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. throughout the emergency. The shutoffs of the Philadelphia Water Department are also paused for the duration of the emergency, giving one less thing for residents to sweat over.

Recognizing the seriousness of this sweltering season, a Code Red has been declared by the Office of Homeless Services. If anyone spots a person in need of shelter or homeless services during this scorched time, the outreach team can be reached at (215) 232-1984. And in a situation where someone is showing serious signs of heat stress like unconsciousness or a rapid heartbeat, 911 is the number to call. The city emphasizes the importance of checking in on the more vulnerable members of the community such as the elderly, those with chronic sickness, or very young children who are all at a higher risk during intense heat waves.

In terms of staying safe and sound, the Department of Public Health has a few words of wisdom: find air conditioning, drink water, don't even think about leaving a living creature in a parked car, and keep a normal diet. If you sense any early signs of heat stress, say a lack of energy or a touch of lightheadedness, find a cooler setting and take a breather. And yes, if you're venturing outdoors, slather on some SPF and keep covered. All this, plus more detailed tips, are available in the City's Extreme Heat Guide or posts surrounding the ongoing Heat Health Emergency.

Finally, for media looking to catch some coverage, there will be one cooling site accessible for the press per day during the emergency, but it's not for a press conference. Head over to the Hunting Park Pool on Friday, June 21, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. if you're in need of some visuals or interviews to round out that heatwave story. If you like to stay ahead of the weather or any other emergency, text READYPHILA to 888777 to get alerts right on your device in several languages, including American Sign Language. More specifics can be found on the Office of Emergency Management's website. Keep cool, Philly.